Scotland has more new bikers – but the safety advice stays the same

Motorbiking in Scottish Highlands

Last month a popular motorcycle dealer reported a spike in sales during the 2020 COVID-19 lockdown.

There could be loads of reasons behind this.

Maybe it was to enjoy the warmer weather the country experienced. Maybe it was to accommodate staycation touring breaks after foreign travel was banned. Or maybe commuters saw it as a way to get around congestion zones some cities experienced following Spaces For People initiatives.

Whatever the reason there’s one key aspect to the rise in demand for motorbikes – more motorbikes means more vulnerable bikers.

Digby Brown Solicitors help bikers injured in all kinds of accidents so we therefore wished to remind bikers and indeed other road users of key road safety advice that is proven to save lives.

Filtering

Firstly let’s be clear – this manoeuvre is not illegal. Rule 88 of the Highway Code confirms a motorcyclist is entitled to filter “in slow-moving traffic” so long as it is performed safely and the rider takes care and keeps their speed low. So bikers, if you choose to filter then be mindful of your speed and unpredictable traffic. And other road users, keep an eye on all your mirrors while negotiating slow moving traffic.

Overbanding

These are the thin, black strips you see on roads (often after resurfacing) that seal cracks or joins. However, they can become slippery in wet conditions so take care.

Road furniture or defects

Potholes, cracks, poorly designed layouts or manhole covers. These are very real and frequent hazards that can result in tragedy for motorcyclists caught unaware.

Spills

Oil, diesel and other substances can make the road surface slippery which can be a serious hazard for bikers. By the time a biker spots a spill, it can also sadly be too late to take evasive action.

Winter weather

Rain, wind, ice or surface water cause problems for all vehicles and bikers are particularly vulnerable. Slower speeds, a more upright position and careful route planning are simple but potentially life-saving measures when it comes to staying safe on the road.

Respect the restrictions

For numerous public safety reasons our country remains in lockdown. Respect these rules and remain in your local authority area unless your reason to leave adheres to government guidelines. You may be excited to explore and experience that new sense of freedom a motorbike brings but now is not the time. Besides, the mountains and rural roads won’t disappear. So let’s wait it out.

Lianda Barnes, Head of the Motorcycle Law department at Digby Brown, said: “It’s great that more people are enjoying motorcycles and the freedom it brings.

“But new bikers need to be aware of the real life risks and hazards of the road that you don’t truly experience until you ride outside of a training or examination environment.

“Having competence and confidence on four wheels does not necessarily translate when you travel by two so those who are new to this rewarding but more risky mode of travel should exercise caution.”

For more information on your legal rights as a motorcyclist then visit our dedicated motorcycle legal advice page.